After the 2004 season, the Ranger organization was all agog over their 5th round draft choice, catcher Mike Nickeas. He was pegged as the team's catcher of the future, and in his first full season of pro ball, started the year at AA, with John Sickels (in his ESPN column) saying, in January, 2005, that Nickeas could be one of the best catching prospects in baseball by January, 2006.
Well, that didn't happen, of course...Nickeas, although drawing praise for his defense, has been abysmal offensively in 2005 and 2006, struggling awfully in Frisco in 2005 before having his season cut short due to injury, and not doing a whole lot better while splitting time between Bakersfield and Frisco (and missing more time with injuries) in 2006.
And today, the Rangers have traded Nickeas for New York Mets outfielder Victor Diaz.
Interesting move for the Rangers, and one that I think looks pretty good...Diaz was designated for assignment on August 22, and has been terrible in AAA this year, but had a very good track record coming into this season, including a 797 OPS for the Mets in part-time play in 2005.
Diaz has been poor in AAA all year, but has completely fallen apart in the last two months.
BA had him as the #8 ranked prospect in the Mets system coming into 2005, before he had what appeared to be his breakout year. He's someone whose upside is probably as, well...Carlos Lee, really. Big guy, doesn't run well, isn't much defensively, doesn't walk much, but someone who can hit the ball from the right side.
And you know, I tend to scoff at people who pull at the "let him work with Rudy and he'll be great" line, but in this case, I think there may be something to it. Jaramillo's style and approach seems to work best with someone like Diaz -- quick bat, not real selective -- and it may be that the Rangers think there could be some synergy there.
I don't know how this necessarily impacts the Rangers' outfield plans for next season, or what it says about the chances of Carlos Lee or Brad Wilkerson returning. But I think this may be a hedge, a possible platoon partner for Wilkerson if they do bring him back, and someone to vie with Nelson Cruz for playing time in right field for 2007.